In our new series, “How I Did It,” we’ll profile home inspectors who overcame a specific challenge, whether it be finding that killer marketing strategy, getting over a slow patch, taking your inspection business to the next level or something else entirely. For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring this series in an effort to show how successful home inspectors have overcome business hurdles and how you can do it too.
This month’s “How I Did It” focuses on standing out amongst the competition, an obstacle that’s put many a home inspector out of business. David Dodge, owner of MyHomeInspector.Biz in Putnam Valley, New York, struggled with this problem when first starting out. Coming out of 20 years in the construction industry, Dodge moved over to home inspection 18 months ago only to find his field crammed with other inspectors. In the past year and a half, Dodge has slowly carved out his own niche among the veteran inspectors, due largely in part to a savvy marketing strategy. Here’s what’s worked for him, and what hasn’t.
The Problem: The economic collapse left a lot of veteran home inspectors out of the job and unfortunately, many are still there. For new inspectors trying to get their foot in the door, separating themselves from the sea of other working inspectors can be daunting.
The Solution: Take a different marketing strategy. When David Dodge entered the home inspection field, he found that literally hundreds of other inspectors in his area were offering the same services. “Getting our company name out there and marketing it directly to our end clients as opposed to trying to solicit the realtors for business [set us apart],” he says. That meant creating a low-cost, marketing strategy that would target future home buyers and figuring out how they want to do business.
“The majority of my business is coming from direct internet marketing…,” Dodge explains, and Servicemagic.com, a pay site that matches consumers with local service professionals in their area. “As soon as we get the alert [from Service Magic], no matter what I’m doing, I drop everything because you need to be the first person to respond. When I’m the first person, I have a 95 percent closing rate. If I’m five seconds too late, they usually hire someone else.”
Dodge doesn’t invest time in blogging or writing articles on home inspection topics, but he does list his company on services likeBuildingPros.com, Inspectopia.com and other sites to ensure that buyers are readily finding his company site. Dodge invests approximately $300 in Google Adwords and Microsoft Adcenter to ensure that his company’s name pops up whenever a future client searches for a home inspection in one of the nine counties he services plus the phrase “mold inspections,” “home inspections,” “radon testing” or “home inspector.” “You have to put a few chips into the game,” he says. “For the little amount that we spend per month, if we get even one job per month out of it, it’s certainly well worth it.”
For inspectors who are trying to raise their online profiles, Dodge recommends using DIYSEO to optimize both your company’s web site and your social media strategy. He also advises new inspectors to prepare to wait. “It took a good two to three weeks to [implement and optimize] everything I could,” he says. “From there, it was another 30 to 60 days before I started seeing any results.”
Since launching his strategy, Dodge’s company website has brought in more than 25,000 hits. 85 percent of his business comes from internet marketing and the rest are generated through referrals. Dodge chalks his success up to his marketing tactics and his ability to seal the deal once the client makes contact. “The key to getting out there with any business is knowing how to convert the leads that you get [to sales]…” he says. “You can be the best inspector out there, but if you can’t talk to someone on the phone and sell your services, it doesn’t matter how good you are.”